Archive for the ‘Elyse’ Category
I shared this story on Facebook yesterday and because I feel it is so important I’m sharing it here too…
As we drove to Ben’s appointment on Wednesday, Dan and I were reminiscing about when we first saw the kid’s pictures. We were talking about how many times we have fallen in love instantly. Not every time but quite a few times we have instantly known. It’s amazing how many times you can lose your heart.
We then started talking about when I first met Elyse. Dan wasn’t able to travel with me that trip because two of our kiddos had just had open heart surgery and we felt one of us should stay home just in case.
I remember Elyse’s face when she first met me and I could tell she was disappointed. I was older and heavier than the mama of her dreams. I watched her act so much older than her years. She wouldn’t eat and talked of being fat, at the time she weighed 55 pounds. She talked to the guide about me and laughed. He would refuse to tell me what she said. My feelings were hurt and I wasn’t supposed to let them be. I had been through this before. You aren’t supposed to take it personal, but I did for that first day at least.
We got to the hotel that first night and she asked to see her clothes. I pulled out the suitcase full of clothes that we had lovingly picked out for her. She picked up items, which were rolled in pairs of outfits with a hair band around them, she took the band off every outfit, and put them in one of two piles. One to keep and one to discard. I watched her make faces and discard clothes that I had thought were cute. She would wrinkle up her nose and drop the shirt or pants on the ever growing “I’m not wearing that pile”.
I remember calling Dan that night and asking “what have we gotten ourselves into? What child in an orphanage turns down new clothes?” So many judgmental thoughts were going through my head. Will she be mean to our kids who are really delayed. Is she going to make fun of Grace who was a little overweight after her bouts of steroids. What would she say to Jasmine?
My heart was truly having a hard time.
The next day the guide told me that Elyse wanted to take the clothes with us on the orphanage trip. Elyse also asked us to buy treats for the orphanage. Elyse was very specific about what she wanted to buy. Time and time again she turned down treats that I suggested. I watched her tear open the snacks and pour them in the Walmart sacks. I remember thinking “what will the orphanage director think? There goes our nicely arranged care package.”
A couple days later we walked in the orphanage and everything changed. She found two older girls who were very delayed. She took the treats that she picked because they were their favorites and ever so sweetly placed them in their hands and put the treats/their hands in their pockets where the snacks would be safe. She did this over and over again. She found some little ones and handed them a treat with the biggest smile on her face. She handed out clothes and hair bands to so many kids. She hugged them goodbye.
And my heart knew underneath all that tough exterior and outward signs of “only looks mattered” there was a caring heart.
I was so wrong to judge her and she will tell you the same about me. So much is not understood at first. It’s been two years and I am still learning new things as she learns more and more English.
She recently told me that the nannies argued with her and wouldn’t let her say goodbye to the babies that she had cared for and her heart was broken. I had seen the disagreement and wondered what Elyse had said or done.
Our babies lose so much and it takes so much time until they can even tell us what they were thinking.
I think this story is much like life. We are all too quick to judge that person who doesn’t act like us, talks different, or doesn’t wear the same clothes. The person who is grumpy because they are having a bad day. We should all extend just a little extra grace because we never know what someone else is going through and even when we think we know, we are often wrong!
I know I was wrong. Every judgment I made of Elyse in those early days was wrong. Elyse has the sweetest heart. Yes, she is beautiful, I would hate for her to think otherwise, but now she knows her worth is not based on how she looks. Her thoughts before were what she had been taught, not what she believed.
(Edit) I woke up this morning and realized I didn’t put in one of the biggest things I learned about her once we got home. We had an appointment to take her to the doctor for the routine appointment that you do upon arriving home. She was so happy and we couldn’t figure out why. Elyse asked Jasmine, who spoke Mandarin still, if she was going to the doctor to see if she could have babies. What 9 year old is worried about whether or not she can bear children?
We found out that she had been taught that her only hope for happiness in life was her beauty, if she could have a baby, and have surgery to fix her legs to walk. She wasn’t caught up in her beauty and looks because she was vain. She was caught up in it because she had been taught that her happiness in life depended on it.
She is an adored, loved daughter. I am blessed to know her. Oh what we would have missed and oh how wrong I was!
Today I had a MRI for my back. It felt very scary. In the orphanage when I had to go to the hospital or for tests, they always left me alone. In the MRI I was alone. I didn’t know my mom could come in. I was scared. I did not like feeling like I did in China.
I don’t like to be left alone. It made me really upset and I cried. I do not want to ever be alone again. I love my mom and dad. I always think they are my real parents. If I don’t have my mom and dad, life would be so scary. Mom and dad told me all about MRI so I wouldn’t be scared.
I didn’t know mom could come in. My brother, Liam, had a MRI too. He has spina bifida too. He cried and they let mom come in. They let mama hold Liam’s hand so he would not be scared and don’t feel alone. This is the first time mama didn’t go in. Mama and daddy both waited for me. They always love me. They always care about us. I was not scared in the MRI after awhile because I knew mama and daddy would never leave me alone or let someone hurt me.
When we get hurt mama and daddy always hug us, talk to us, and help us get better so we won’t be upset. Mama and daddy changed my life. Mama and daddy tell me I can do everything. Don’t listen to what China says because it’s not true. Now I know who I should trust or who not to trust.
I have fun with mama and daddy. We ate breakfast at McDonalds and mama and daddy buy us food we like. My love language is to hug me and to say “I love you” so they do it all the time so that I know they love me very much.
Life has been interesting since we got home on the 4th. We arrived home Friday night and Sunday morning Jessica awoke with a temperature. We already had an appointment scheduled for Monday morning with the pediatrician so we started antibiotics and planned to see the pediatrician Monday morning for some lab work.
Her lab work was worse than we had hoped. Dan called the nephrologist and urologist at the children’s hospital and they fit her in for an appointment on Wednesday. Grace and Elyse, who were trying to belp, had told Jessica that this was just an appointment and that she would not be admitted to the hospital. Jessica was comforted by that. She had been hospitalized and gone through surgery alone in China. She was very fearful.
We had her appointment where they changed her Foley catheter and drew labs. We left with a plan in place to get extra tests and go from there. Unfortunately, as we finished eating, our phone rang and they asked us to come back to have her admitted. The lab results had come back and they were worse than Monday’s. She is extremely anemic and her labs were showing her kidneys to be working at about 15%. We needed to start an IV and try to stabilize her electrolytes
The good news is that Jessica (JJ) had a few good days at home and had bonded with Gracie and Elyse. JJ did not want to be part of much that was going around the house. She doesn’t like American food. She doesn’t necessarily like adults. It’s been interesting to say the least. We have never had a child that wasn’t at least pretty comfortable by the time we got home from China. It’s going to take JJ a very long time to trust us and to know that we truly love her and will never leave her. Add on a hospital admission and the time to trust us extends even further.
On the other side of the coin is Liam. He looks like he has been here forever. He is right in the middle of the littles all the time. He likes the food, especially the treats big sister, Cassie, bought him.
He likes the kid’s schedule. He likes the toys they play with. He likes to snuggle up with them to go to sleep.
He likes pretty much everything.
I am thankful that he has adjusted so well. It would have been horrible to leave him otherwise. He loves to FaceTime and show me what he has been doing. He is the happiest, silliest little boy. Everyone adores him!
The prognosis for JJ is complicated. We don’t know where her baseline will ultimately end up. Today her labs were better and her kidney function was about 20%. The formula they use to figure your GFR takes many things in to account.
Dan was at work today and the nephrologist sat and talked with me for quite awhile about what was to be expected in the future. Of course there are many variables but we know for certain she will need dialysis and ultimately a transplant. There has been too many years of damage and scar tissue. We had hoped to get to her in time to reverse some of the damage and avoid a transplant. I know now that isn’t possible.
Her bones are almost see through from calcium loss and lack of vitamin D. She is extremely anemic and will need weekly shots to help her produce red blood cells. The doctors are trying to avoid transfusions because of the need for a transplant.
She’s very sad and hasn’t been eating or drinking very much. Elyse reminded her that she has to be able to take all 5 meds by mouth and drink and eat well to get to come home. This afternoon she did much better.
The nephrologist said he isn’t sure whether she will need dialysis in a month or a few months. We will know more in the coming days. We know anything under 50% kidney function leads to dialysis at some point in your life. We know she will lose approximately 3% kidney function a year. We know lower than 20% and they start talking transplant. We know a number of 15% gets you dialysis.
She will have a sedated MRI and CAT scan on Monday to look at her back and hips. We were lead to believe she had spina bifida but that isn’t true. Her little legs are very contractured and very, very small. Her back has many fused and misshapen vertebra.
Genetics, orthopedics and neurosurgery have been called for consults and they have ordered the tests they need to figure this out.
From her X-ray, we know she has pretty severe “s” scoliosis. From the renal ultrasound we know her kidneys are very small. At one point the lab tech left to get the physician and the physician informed me the kidneys were the size of a newborns and he wanted me to get my husband, who is a physician, so he could talk to him. They aren’t quite that little, but they are very small.
She needs urodynamics and other tests to see what else is going on. It’s a lot for a little girl, who is already hurt and fearful, to go through.
She will let me comfort her after her procedures. This picture is after they placed her PICC line. When I rub her head or hold her hand, she pretends to be asleep so it isn’t like she is giving in. You will see her look out under her closed lids and shut her eyes really fast and she sighs and leans into me. It’s her way of being comforted without acting like she likes it or needs it or giving up control.
She is one tough little girl. She is spunky and stubborn and a fighter. I know this is what has kept her alive and fighting. I respect that and will give her the distance and time she needs to feel safe. Someday she will accept our love and know what family means.
We knew the possibilities going in. We were as prepared as we could be. We were hoping we were wrong but knew in the end it didn’t matter. She is our daughter and you fight for your children.
Hopeful for more time for her to adjust before dialysis needs to start but we will do what is necessary to give her the very best chance at a happy, hope-filled life.
Because she is worth it!!!
Today Elyse asked me if she could write about her birthday. I told her she could tell me all about it and I would type it up for her. I wanted to give a little background to the day and why it affected her so.
Elyse will turn 10 years old on Tuesday. She is very excited about having her “first” birthday. She has been counting down the days for quite a while now. To say she is excited, would be a massive understatement. She will be 10 but this will be the first time someone has celebrated the day of her birth. The first time she has had a cake. The first time she has had a family celebrate her life.
This morning we went to church and the church sang Happy Birthday to her and another little girl named Grace. As we left to head home, many of the congregation stopped and hugged her and wished her a very happy birthday!
In the bus she was unusually quiet. I asked her why and she said she couldn’t understand why people sang to her and wished her a happy day. I explained that is how things are done in America. Your birthday is a special day. People celebrate your life and will wish you the best on that day. She sat quietly on the way home and took it all in.
When we got home from church, the house had been decorated by Reece and Cassie. She was surprised and so excited. She picked out her favorite lunch – nachos and noodles with orange chicken. We then got out her cake and lit the candles. We called Zach and Stephanie and with the magic of Facetime we all sang happy birthday as she blew out her birthday candles.
She had a pinata and a huge blow-up My Little Pony balloon. We don’t usually buy all the other big things that are available for a birthday, but your first birthday is an important one so we splurged.
She asked to watch a movie with everyone. They all sat around the t.v., snuggling, and hanging out. I went out to clean up the kitchen. I heard her wheelchair come up behind me but Elyse didn’t say a word. Elyse is a talker and she is constantly telling me stories so for her to not be talking meant something was wrong. I turned around to find tears rolling down her cheeks.
I asked her if she was hurt and she said no. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she didn’t know what to do with the feeling in her heart. She said her heart was so full of feelings about her day and it made her sad. I tried to figure out why celebrating her birthday would make her sad.
Then the sobbing started as she poured out the words “thank you for loving me”. She was thanking us for caring and for loving her and for giving her a party, something we all take for granted. She continued to sob for quite some time as she said how much everything meant to her and how much she loved her family. She talked about how it was just overwhelming that so many people cared about her. She then asked to go thank her daddy and the tears started all over again with her words of thanks and love to her daddy.
Elyse’s First Birthday (It’s the title she asked for.)
I was so happy I had a birthday party. It’s my first birthday party. Before I never had a birthday.
I’m glad right here people love me. I’m happy my mom and daddy always take care of me and love me. I’m happy I have sisters for my birthday. They really glad. I love my sisters.
Before I never have birthday and no one loves me. They don’t care about me and my birthday. I never be shopping before. I never had a mommy and daddy always love me, always take care of me.
I’m so happy I still alive in China but I sometimes feel sad because they say you can’t do anything because you are in a wheelchair. I sat around and thought about I can’t do everything. They made fun of me and told me not to tell anyone, but now people say I can do everything.
Today I sad and mommy ask me why. I cried because I never see people love me like this. I feel a little bit sad because no one loved me like my mommy and daddy do. I tell mommy thank you for the party. I cried because my heart feel really full with the sad and the happy.
I do not know why they treat me like that all the time. I am happy I now have a family who loves me. I’m happy God showed my family me so they want to adopt me and love me and take care of me. I so happy I have a family.
Today mommy make me noodles and egg drop soup and spicy chicken soup and we have Oreo ice cream cake. I really like it. I’m happy mommy bought me a cake. The cake was very yummy and had candles.
Mama really funny to me and daddy put frosting on my face.
Daddy was really funny and he was playing. My daddy is a good daddy. I got to pick a movie. I pick one with Jackie Chan. I really like it. Jackie Chan is really good movie.
I got a big pink My Little Pony balloon. I really like it. It’s my favorite. I tell mommy it’s too expensive but mommy says it’s my first birthday so I can have it. It is really big and really fun.
It’s my first balloon. It is bigger than me. I’m happy my mom and daddy buy me stuff when we go shopping. I get to go with them for my birthday, all by myself, and pick out one thing.
I open a present from Reece and Cassie. It is a chocolate writer. My daddy love it too. It had lots of pictures in it of stuff you can do. You can make lots of things.
You can write with chocolate and eat it. I really like it.
My feelings is really happy. My feelings is I have a happy heart on my happy day. Mama bought me a shirt that says I have a happy heart. Mama says it is true. I am very happy to have a birthday and family to share it with.
I love my mommy and daddy forever and my sisters and brothers. I love my big family and they love me so much.
I come home and daddy said, “I love you!” to me. Daddy met me at the airport and he bought food for me and he loved me. Daddy said, “I am happy you are my daughter.” Daddy buys me special food. Daddy says goodnight every night to me. Daddy calls me WanQiubaca. (WanQiu is pronounced “Wan-Chew”, hence WanChewbaca). Daddy always asks me what I want.
Sometimes when Gracie, Jasmine and me are fighting and daddy get a little bit mad and I know daddy so in love with us because even though we make Codey yell daddy doesn’t hit me or yell or nothing not like China daddy.
I’m so happy he is my daddy. Not like China daddy who not love me. Mama and daddy always say they love me so much and happy you is my daughter. I happy my mama and daddy adopt me.
Daddy and mommy buy me a bed and makeup stuff. I tell mommy and daddy to stop spending money but mommy and daddy say its okay cause I is their daughter.
I am happy mama teaches me school. I am happy daddy is doctor. Daddy really good job being a doctor. Daddy take care of the baby. Mama every day do school with us.
I love daddy very much and daddy love me very much! I happy you’re my daddy!
Elyse has been talking about writing a blog just like big sister, Jasmine. She has been begging me to do a blog about her mama. I promised her I would write what she says no matter what, but after typing this I had serious second thoughts. I have sat on this blog post for a while. I gave her time to think about why she wants to say this. She has told me over and over again that she wants people to understand that a child might not be nice in China because they don’t know any better. They might say things and act up because they are afraid or that is what they have been taught. She feels so bad that she judged me in China. I never gave it another thought after the first few times she said it and it still haunts her that she was mean to the person who came to give her love and a family.
In the end I decided to share this because I thought it was very insightful for a nine year old and it is a small insight into the mind of an child when their whole world is turned upside down. She is truly the sweetest, most caring, helpful little girl. I was afraid she would never attach to me. I was fearful that I would never be the mother she wanted. I was afraid she would never be happy with living in America. I was afraid all those lessons she was taught early in her life were part of who she was forever. The girl Elyse was when we first met her and who she is just 8 months later is vastly different. We are very close and I am very blessed to get to be her mama.
When mama was in China, people take a picture of me and mama. I saw mommy and did not know what to think. I was really mad and really grumpy. I thought Zach and Stephanie (brother and sister-in-law) were my mama and daddy. Mama said, “We go somewhere.” and I said, “NO!” I was really mad at mom. Sometimes I didn’t listen to her.
Sometimes I go to eat with Zach and Stephanie and mama. Sometimes I not be nice to mama. I feel bad now. I sometimes say bad word to mama. I say that she is fat. In China it not good to be fat. We laugh at fat. I make mama feel bad. I say it many times to many people.
I talk to mama about it after we be home for long time. I tell mama that I am sorry for saying bad word. Mama said, “I forgive you. I was not mad.” Mama said, “It only made me sad for a minute. I am heavy. It’s the truth. It’s ok.” Daddy said, “Mama already forgive you. You don’t have to feel bad about it.” But my heart is a little bit sad but mama said, “You don’t know me in China. It’s ok.” Right now I don’t do it because I know mama and I love my mama. I learn that fat don’t make you a bad person.
In China, I say, “I no learn English.” Mama said, “You will learn.” I said, “Mama I don’t. It too hard.” I tell her I no learn English cause I marry Chinese boy.
We went on a boat. I say, “I don’t like pizza. I won’t eat pizza.” Mama said “Just try it.” and I say, “No!” Stephanie say, “Just try it.” I said, “Mmmmm. Pizza is good!” The water was very pretty. It was very much fun. I sorry I was so mad.
I took a big bath in the hotel. It was so much fun. Mama said, “It’s time for bed and she signed ‘night night'” We had two beds but I asked mama to sleep by me. I was afraid. I patted the bed and she know what I say. Mama sleep by me. At night I didn’t sleep. I take pictures and watch t.v. I didn’t listen to mama when she said to go to bed.
Mama said, “We have to adopt Max too.” But I said, “No! I want to go to America.” Mama said, “We can’t leave Max in China.”
Then we went on a big plane for a very big time and we went to America.
We be in America for a long time. Jasmine go to the hospital and I learn English very good. Gracie and Cassie help me.
One day I cry because China say I can’t do anything, but mama and daddy say you can do anything. They say I can cook, drive a car, go to school. They say I can do anything. I cry and cry because I can’t do anything because I in a wheelchair and I am worthless. I know cause China said. I can not do anything. Mama and daddy said, “You can do everything! Dream big!”
In my house Jasmine and Codey are in wheelchairs. Jasmine can say Chinese and Jasmine explain it to me in Chinese that I can do anything and I believe it. Mommy and daddy show me videos with lots of people get married and do lots of things. I can go to school. I believe it!
I have lots of little brothers and sisters. Gracie every day she help me. She help me learn English. She shares her stuff with me and her room. She tell me it our room. She helps me get in bed.
In China they say, “I can go to America. Have a special surgery and fix your legs. Then I can get married and walk and do everything and be happy.” But that’s not true. It make me very sad. Mommy and daddy say they would fix it if they could.
I really happy mommy and daddy adopted me. I get to be called daughter. Mama said, “I so happy you are my daughter and I can be your mom.” Every day I wake up and mommy helps me get up and in my wheelchair. Everyday she say she love me.
I so happy mama and daddy love me and every day hug me. Every day they say they love me.
Jasmine and I have long talks about what to share, what information will make a difference, what information will teach, and in the end we decide some things are just too personal to share about her previous life. I know that fact is shocking considering how much she has allowed me to share, but let’s just say life for these kids is hard in so many ways and although there is tons of information she has chosen to share, there is just as much that she has chosen not to share. She had a life before the orphanage and it is that life that she is most hesitant to share about.
I believe I know at least part of the reason for this, it’s one thing to have someone question what a caregiver, who is a stranger, has told you to be truth. It’s another thing to question what people, who are supposed to love you, care for you, and protect you, have told you is the truth. It will take a long time to get through all the hurt from Jasmine’s first eight years. Her words in regard to this matter are, “If I tell you about my life and how bad I really am, you could never, ever love me and I want you to love me mommy.”
I have been so happy to have Jasmine as a translator for Elyse. With the toddlers the language barrier wasn’t much of an issue. We used signs and simple language, both Mandarin and English, and we did just fine. They picked up English very quickly. With Jasmine it was much harder at first, she knew very little English and we knew very little Mandarin. We played a lot of charades for the first couple of months. We used Google Translate, although it does a poor job translating in very much detail. Jasmine was pretty easy going and learned English amazingly quick.
Elyse joined our family and knew no English. She informed us that she would not be learning English and she refused to even try during the first two weeks home. Jasmine’s extended stay in the hospital nipped that in the bud though and during the last 30 days she has learned many new phrases and is picking up English rather quickly and has decided that she likes knowing two languages (three if you count the ASL we use too).
Elyse came to us with some very interesting thoughts. I am sharing these thoughts to let others, who are adopting older children, understand that even if you think you know what is going on in their heads, you couldn’t possibly comprehend everything that they are thinking. Unless you speak perfect Mandarin, know for a fact what their nannies have told them, and they trust you enough to have a indepth conversation with you, you are not going to know for a very long time what they believe to be the truth and what their fears are.
I consider it okay to share these thoughts because these thoughts are not Elyse’s. Elyse can not be held accountable for these thoughts nor should anyone think differently about her because of these thoughts. These thoughts are the lies that she has been fed over and over again throughout her life until she finally made them her belief system. If you will, it’s a form of brainwashing. If you tell a child they are stupid and worthless over and over again, they will believe it. If you tell a child that they are ugly, they will believe it. If you tell them they can not do anything, and no one will every want them, they will believe it. If it is the only thing they hear day in and day out, it becomes their reality.
Elyse has been told that her only hope to be happy in life is to come to America and get her legs fixed. Not only that, but she has been told she is lucky because she is beautiful. Being beautiful, getting her legs fixed, and IF she can have a baby, may make her appealing enough to a man that he may want to marry her and then she could finally be happy.
When we told Elyse that she had a doctor’s appointment her first words were, “Will they tell me if I can have babies?” She was so disappointed that she was just going in for a routine visit. And if all those other lies weren’t enough, she was also told that the doctors would be able to fix her legs and she will be able to walk. Elyse has spina bifida and no feeling in her legs. You can not fix this kind of nerve damage. Her legs are atrophied. One leg will not bend and one leg stays bent. No only did they feed her lies but they gave her false hope. It’s heartbreaking as a parent to have to crush those dreams.
Elyse is fixated on her looks. It’s very important to her. While we were in China, she would practice posing and take picture after picture of herself. She took over 3,000 pictures. She would stare at herself in the mirror and fix her hair for an hour. She wants to wear make-up. She wants to be appealing. She worries about whether or not her hair is styled just right. She is very sure of what she will wear and what she won’t. All of these things are not bad in and of themselves, but the reason for being overly concerned about them is bad, and without the knowledge that Jasmine gave us I wouldn’t have known what to make of Elyse’s behavior.
Elyse doesn’t like that her skin is darker. She doesn’t like that her stomach sticks out a little bit. She doesn’t like the lump on her back. She really doesn’t like people who are overweight. In China, I had difficulty with this. I am overweight. Having your child make faces and be disgusted over anyone that she sees that is overweight hurt my feelings. I tried not to take it personally but it was difficult. I knew that culturally that heavier people were made fun of in China. I knew this but it still hurt.
Here is what I’d like you to picture. You are in China meeting the child you have waited for and prayed for for almost a year and she doesn’t necessarily like you. She likes all the other mamas in your group because they are skinny. She likes to point to them and then point to your stomach and say “no”. When you eat, she makes faces. She refuses to eat. She bosses people around about what she would eat. She constantly talks about being fat or getting fat. Considering she is 9 years old and weighs 44 pounds, the likelihood of that happening in the next year is pretty slim.
She has an over-the-top personality and she turns it on extra bright when she is with other people. She does it in hopes that they won’t notice her disability. This has become her life mantra…..beauty means everything and without it she has no worth.
Underneath it all she is a sweet girl. With Max she was adorable. When we were in the room, she was so very sweet. She wants to be loved. She wants the love of family. She is only doing what everyone during her whole life has told her is right. You can not hold that against a child. Without Jasmine my judgment of what Elyse was doing would have been the wrong judgment. I would have been angry at her attitude because I wouldn’t have had the proper framework of why she thinks what she thinks. You have to take all of these things into account when you are dealing with these older adopted kids.
We used Google Translate a lot with Jasmine. It works for short phrases. It wasn’t until Jasmine started writing her blog and I used Google Translate to translate it that I realized how off it was. Someone who knows Mandarin and English wrote to me and said that what Jasmine wrote was even more beautiful when it was translated correctly and they were right. That was eye opening. Who knows what I had been saying to Jasmine during those first few months.
A friend was explaining how different words mean different things in Mandarin as opposed to English. Silly in Mandarin means you are a fool. If you want to tell them they are silly, you should say they are playful or jesting. They often say open when they mean on. Naughty means impish or mischievous not badly behaved. The character for chicken and muscle are the same. The list is long on words that have different meanings for them so even if they do understand what the words means it may not mean the same thing to you as it does to them.
These children refer to the nannies as mama. Jasmine was told she had to call them mama or she would be punished. They refer to older girls as jiejie (older sister) and younger girls as meimei (little sister). Much older girls are called aunt and men are called uncles. The elderly are referred to as nainai (grandma) and yeye (grandpa). These are the terms they use all the time. If they have grown up in an orphanage, they use these terms all the time but they don’t understand these terms as family.
Children are told they have to be good or you will send them back. They are told they have no worth and the only reason someone would want them is for their organs. They are told you are bringing them here as hired help. They are told that Americans are rich and they can have anything and everything they want. Jasmine was told that she was going to another orphanage because we had 6 kids. Elyse believed she was in another foster home because in China only foster homes have more than one child. You just can’t even imagine the things that they have been told or what they may be thinking.
We, as parents, have to look at things differently. One of my friends said it best when she said that you have to parent differently. It’s not up to them to change. It’s up to you to change. It is just not the same with these children. You can not expect them to respond like your bio children do. They come from difficult backgrounds. They have deep scars and trust issues. You have to lovingly help them to see what their worth truly is. You have to give them reasons to trust and you can’t expect it to just happen over night. I have heard others say that it takes a year out of the orphanage for every year spent in the orphanage for them to trust. For Elyse that would be another 9 years. I hope this isn’t true. I hope she sees that family is permanent. I hope that she can trust.
Some day I hope Elyse will see her worth isn’t tied up in whether she has legs that work or not. I hope she realizes that she can do anything she chooses. Someday she will see that she doesn’t need anyone else to make her happy. I hope she can one day see that she is beautiful but that is not what makes her truly lovely. But mostly I hope that one day she will truly understand the love of family and how much we love her not for what she looks like or what she can do but just because she’s our Elyse WanQiu.
It all started with tears over the fact that she didn’t want to have a tea party with Elyse and Gracie. Somehow I knew it wasn’t about the tea party. Jasmine is usually easy going. It was unusual for her to balk about something so trivial. I asked her if Elyse had said anything to upset her and she screamed, “This is boring. I don’t want to do it.”
I let her know she didn’t have to play with the other girls. I let her know that she could just sit in the room and watch them then but it would be more fun for her to participate. She still didn’t budge on her position and I left them alone in their bedroom.
About five minutes later Gracie came out saying Jasmine was sobbing. I tried to get Jasmine to talk. Cassie tried. Gracie tried. None of us had any luck. I told her I knew that there was something else going on. I asked her to e-mail me when she felt ready to talk. She told me there was nothing wrong and I gave her some more time to calm down.
The sobbing continued. We continued to try and talk to her. Jasmine yelled, “There is nothing wrong. I am NOT sad! I am NOT mad!” as the tears continued to roll down her face.
This lasted three hours.
Three hours folks and she kept insisting it was because she didn’t want to have a boring tea party.
We’ve had one other huge battle like this one and that battle was over her saying she was stupid. This was admittedly the dumbest fight ever in the history of fights. She refused to back down about saying she was stupid. I told her she knows three languages. She is doing amazing in school. She is one very bright, insightful girl and I would not let her call herself stupid. The fight continued. She yelled. She threw her pencil. She cried and cried and cried all over the fact that I refused to let her call herself stupid.
I informed her that she could either say, “I am NOT stupid or I was going to make her write it 50 times.” She still refused. I got out the paper and the pencil. She wrote her sentences but she refused to write the NOT. This part of the disagreement went on for a couple hours. I tried to let her calm down. I had Cassie talk to her. I had Dan talk to her. I had Hope talk to her. She refused to say, “I am not stupid.” and the tears continued to fall.
See we’ve been here before. I knew the fight wasn’t about the tea party just as much as the other fight wasn’t about her admitting she isn’t stupid. It was about fear. It was about having so many emotions over so many confusing thoughts that the simplest thing set her off. It was safe to be mad about a tea party. It was not safe to admit your fears.
I told her that she had to stop and calm down. I wasn’t going to argue with her. She needed a shower so I gave her time alone in the shower so she could think. She refused to talk. I had already told her she had two choices.
1.) To let me know what was really wrong.
2.) To go to bed.
She chose to go to bed. I couldn’t believe it. I gave her the options and now I had to follow through. It was 6:30 p.m. and she chose to go to bed. I gave her ten chances to change her mind. I gave her her I-pad in case she changed her mind. I told her she could let me know just a little bit at anytime and we would talk but that she wasn’t allowed to not tell me the truth. She couldn’t keep saying “I’m not mad. I’m not sad. She could ask to talk about it later but she could not keep lying to me about there being nothing wrong.”
Three hours later I get this e-mail.
“Are you sad adoption me?”
Am I sad that I adopted her? Oh my heart.
“I do wrong. Do you think I’m stupid?”
“If one day you do not want me, I really do not want lose the family.”
“Because I know what will become of my foture.”
And then she asked me to come to her room to talk.
It wasn’t about the tea party. It was about Elyse mentioning that the nannies told her that she could come to America and be healed. The nannies had told Jasmine the same thing. We were about six months in when Jasmine had enough English under her belt to ask us when she would get the surgery that would let her walk. We had the horrible task of letting her know that there was nothing that could be done. You can’t fix muscular dystrophy. We had to break her heart and now we were going to have to break Elyse’s. I told Jasmine not to say anything to Elyse because we haven’t seen a doctor yet. Jasmine doesn’t need to be the bearer of bad news that could wait for another day.
But all of her discussions with Elyse brought up the fears that she had before.
Jasmine told me that she was worried that she would get too heavy and I would take her back to the orphanage.
Because it has happened to her before.
Jasmine let me know that she was afraid about having her surgery on the 13th because she didn’t want to wake up in the hospital alone.
Because it has happened to her before.
Jasmine was worried that I would decide that she was no longer worth caring for.
Because it has happened before.
It wasn’t about a tea party. It was about her wanting a family. It was about her wanting to walk. It was about her wishing she could dream about one day growing up, falling in love, and having a family of her own.
I’m sharing this story today because I want other parents who have adopted or are choosing to adopt an older child to remember not to take it personally and to remember the trivial fights usually are about something much more. It’s not about wanting to eat late at night. It’s about them testing you to see if you will feed them and love them. It’s not so much about control as it is about fear. Fear that you don’t love them enough. Fear that they won’t get food. Fear that this whole family thing isn’t going to work out.
I can understand this. For years when Dan and I met, I would test him. I would push him. I would bait him. I would argue with him. Why? Because I didn’t believe someone could truly love me. My dad and my mom divorced when I was 10 and then shortly after that I was sexually abused, for a whole summer, by an older trusted friend. It played with my head and my self worth. It made me believe that men would just hurt and that I had no worth. This took place over about six months. Now imagine if your whole life had been one of not feeling loved or worthy. What if they made you believe that you are so bad that if you ever let anyone know the real you, they would return you to the orphanage? How much would you test? How much time would you need to heal?
Dan finally made me see that I could trust him and live each day happy or I could spend my whole life assuming he would leave and be miserable. I had to make the choice. These kids are in the same boat. They have to make that choice but the first couple of years are just trying to figure it out. They don’t have the language or the maturity to make that choice. It’s all about survival. If they learned to survive with manipulation, then they will manipulate. If they learned to survive by withdrawing, then they will withdraw. It takes time to let go of the fear and the anger.
So it’s up to us, the supposed grownups, to remember it has nothing to do with us. It has to do with fear and we have to remember who the author of fear is. It isn’t God. God is all about hope and redemption. Satan whispers and people doubt. Please remember that the next time you are in the heat of the moment. Take a step back. It’s not about the tea party or them loving you. It’s about fear that they will one day lose this thing that they can’t even admit that they want.
I am going to try and post from my phone. This ought to be interesting. 🙂 (Hint- it didn’t work. -Cassie)
We will be traveling to three different cities on this trip. Stage one – Hefei, stage two – Zhengzhou, and the final stage – Guangzhou.
This has been the most relaxed adoption trip ever so far. They messed up our room at the Hilton and we ended up in a suite. A two bedroom suite with a jacuzzi tub that Elyse has loved.
We have played cards, shopped, ate pizza and watched some really interesting shows on a channel called Diva.
We visited the orphanage and met Elyse’s foster grandmother, mother, father and assorted family. Elyse spent the first 7 years or her life with them before being called back to the orphanage. It was a very moving moment in time and I believe allowed Elyse some closure. Elyse had not seen them for two years and yet she acted like it was just yesterday. Elyse’s foster grandmother told her to go, love her family, and be happy. What a gift!
Tomorrow, bright and early, we head out to Zhengzhou for stage two of our trip. We meet Max on Monday. I am so ready to hold our boy. Praying that he isn’t too frightened and ready to he loved up.
Please surround our little guy with prayer. I can’t imagine what it feels like to all of a sudden be with other people who look so different from you. Elyse has done really well. She has been prepared well for adoption. Praying the same is true with Max.
Well, the day is finally here. We leave bright and early at 4 a.m. It didn’t sound so bad when we bought the tickets. What was I thinking?
It will all be worth it when we meet these two….
I’ve been informed that Elyse says, “To hurry up. What’s taking you so long mom?”
The countdown chart has been prepared.
Friends even dropped off a little gift for each and every day that we are gone.
Thanks Foerch family!!!
This trip will be different in that Dan is staying home. With Evie and Elijah recently having surgery, we decided it would be better if one of us stayed home. It won’t be the same without Dan with me. We’ve never been apart more than a week in the 30 years we have been married.
He’s sad and I’m sad.
But he is going to fly to Chicago so that he can meet the kids before everyone else does because that’s what daddies who wish the could go….do. I love the way he thinks.
The kids have been kissed and tucked in.
They all told me to hurry up and get Max and Elyse so they can come home and see the Christmas lights.
Cassie and daddy have the fort covered.
Everything’s packed and ready to go.
So even though I’m sad about leaving my loved ones behind. I am reminded of the reason we chose to adopt in the first place. It’s not always an easy journey but well worth it.
Look how far Lainey has come! She is such a happy girl now.
Family is a beautiful thing.
Cassie will update while I’m gone.
She’s a little busy with some wedding plans, but I think she can handle it.
Wedding plans you ask?
Oh! Did I forget to mention what happened the other night?
Well, Reece graciously included all her siblings and surprised Cassie by proposing at Jolly Holiday Lights.
Jolly Holiday Lights is a couple miles of lighted up signs and at the end you can get out and get a picture with Santa.
So we loaded up the bus….
and the siblings had their picture taken.
She said “Yes!”
It seems we have lots of good news to share!
We will be home soon! Please continue to keep us all in your prayers.
Max and Elyse as their lives change.
All those that wait at home.
Zach, Steph, and I for safe travels.
- Chinese Children Adoption International
- Hats for Gracie
- Love Without Boundaries
- New Hope Foundation China
- Show Hope
- China 2013
- China 2014
- China 2016
- Congenital Heart Defect
- Evangeline Faith
- Family Life
- Food for Thought Friday
- Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)
- Jasmine's Dream
- Lainey Rae
- Love Without Boundaries
- Making a difference
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Orphan Care
- Thoughts to ponder